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Around 1920, Case investigated the thallium sulfide photoconductor - €”one of the first photoconductors to give a response in the near IR region to approximately 1.1 μm. The next group of materials to be studied was the lead salts (PbS, PbSe, and PbTe), which extended the wavelength response to 7 μm. PbS photoconductors from natural galena found in Sardinia were originally fabricated by Kutzscher at the University of Berlin in the 1930s. However, for any practical applications it was necessary to develop a technique for producing synthetic crystals. PbS thin-film photoconductors were first produced in Germany, next in the United States at Northwestern University in 1944, and then in England at the Admiralty Research Laboratory in 1945. During World War II, the Germans produced systems that used PbS detectors to detect hot aircraft engines. Immediately after the war, communications, fire control, and search systems began to stimulate a strong development effort that has extended to the present day. After 60 years, low-cost, versatile PbS and PbSe polycrystalline thin films remain the photoconductive detectors of choice for many applications in the 1-€“3 μm and 3-5 μm spectral range. Current development with lead salts is in the FPAs configuration.
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